Massive 5th Wheeler Motor home Overhaul

Recently the Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery team were thrilled to be asked to complete an overhaul on the Evans’ 5th Wheeler Motor Home upholstery and awnings. 

Motor home upholstery and awning repair Hastings Hawkes Bay

These customers are “living the motor home dream” as the camper (if you can call it that) is their permanent home. Our team had to turn this job around quickly to save them motel costs, while ensuring the job brought their visions to life. 

The motor home interior

Inside we did a full re-carpet in the bedroom, including the steps and added a step rail to reduce wear. In the living area as well as re-carpeting the motor home we re-upholstered the entire set of settees and dining squabs, and even covered their dining chairs to match. 

The motor home awning repair

We added a new bolt rope to the top as the old one had started to tear, and on the other side repaired their roll-out blind. 

Take a look inside & out

In this short video our Production Manager Peter O’Connel takes you behind the scenes with a look at the nuts and bolts of the project.


Could your motor home or caravan upholstery use a quality repair? 

Talk to the Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery team about a bespoke solution to bring your visions to reality for your motor home or caravan. We enjoy exceeding the expectations of our customers and look forward to hearing about your ideas.


Photo credit: Shellie Evans Photography (

Best with boats: Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery brings home national marine fabrication award for excellence

The annual Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand (OFPANZ) Conference is a prestigious event and sees over 80 fabricators from across the country vying for an award each year. For entrants it is a chance to showcase their best work from the year and benchmark their fabrication skills against the best in the trade.

Held in Christchurch in 2018, the Award for Excellence in Marine Fabrication was awarded to the team at Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery for our seamless work on a customised boat canopy and covers – The Great White.

Award Winning Boat Cover Marine Fabrication Hawkes Bay

Douglas Marine Fabrication Award - Team Photo

Douglas’ Production Manager Peter O’Connell says winning an award is a team effort. “I’m incredibly proud of our team who exceeded our customer’s expectations for this job. At Douglas we’re about building up the next generation of craftspeople and passing down the skills of the trade, and it’s awesome to have those skills recognised at a national level.”

More information on the award-winning boat cover can be found here.

The Douglas team of experienced craftsmen are proficient in anything to do with canvas and fabrication – whether it be for boats, vehicles or cushions, to customising solutions for the wide variety of commercial businesses in Hawke’s Bay.

No job is too big or small and we welcome you to get in touch to discuss a customised solution for you.
Motor trimming shown with custom Sunbeam convertible soft top

Custom motor trimming – check out this soft top

The Douglas auto upholstery & motor trimming team have been lucky enough to have done work on this customer’s Sunbeam for a few years now, and each time he brings us a new challenge. 

Put the top down, baby!

This clever guy came to us and said he planned to make the framework for the convertible top himself, and could we help with making a completely custom sports top from scratch, with nothing more than a couple of photos and a bit of collaboration and imagination?

Not one to turn down a challenge, here’s how we got this to completion in a few “simple” steps:

  • Working closely with the customer as he designed and built the framework, once we had the car in our shop we were able to draw up a pattern, and got the owner to check he was happy with the look and that it would work once it was folded down (a bit of nail-biting went on!)
  • We then set about covering the framework in sports topping to match the motor trimming work we had previously done on the car’s interior upholstery
  • Next step was to fabricate the inner hood lining
  • Then, using the pattern we first made, we fabricated the outer skin and fitted it. Like a glove, no less!

Motor trimming shown with custom Sunbeam convertible soft top  

Custom convertible soft top cover by our Hawkes Bay motor trimmers

The final reaction from the customer was amazing. His initial reaction was stunned silence (we all held our breath), then he went on to explain that he’d had a vision for what he imagined it would look like, and as he knew the challenges we faced just as he had when he’d built the frame, we had exceeded his expectations as to how good it looked. 

Fair to say we were pretty happy with that! What a cool job we have sometimes as motor trimmers – we are privileged to be asked to work on classic cars like this, and treat our customer’s baby like our own. 

If you have a challenge for us, get in touch – we’d love to hear about your plans and requirements. 

You can also take a look at the custom work we do every day on cars, boats, aeroplanescaravans, horse-floats – you name it!


Donating Roller Blinds to a Local Hawkes Bay Non Profit

In November, Nourished 4 Nil reached out to the Facebook Community for Help. “Our serving/distribution area has 2 HUGE windows that face the blazing afternoon sun,” they said. “We recently got 2 quotes to install sun blocking roller blinds….Unfortunately the quotes would REALLY stretch our little budget and while blinds are certainly not a necessity, having them would make the prep times and distribution more pleasant this coming summer. ”


One of the team at Douglas Outdoor Living saw this post and suggested we get in contact. “I met with Christina and was thoroughly impressed by the operation she has created,” said Mike Konig, managing director. “We are happy to be involved this time of year giving back to the community.”

Just before Christmas, a few of our installers were on site at 6:30 am installing the brackets for the screens. They did this on their own time. The screens were installed later that week.

They were very happy to have them installed. Nourished-4-Nil-Roller-Blinds-Installed


How to protect the front of your caravan

When you take your caravan on the road this summer the last thing you want to deal with is a cracked window or paint damage. That’s why many of our customers leading up to Christmas have brought in their caravans to have custom stone guards installed.  These stone guards are typically made with a heavy duty PVC or Polyester Marine.

Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery specialises in making custom covers of all different shapes and sizes to create many different solutions.

This particular customer wanted to protect the paint along the front of their caravan. They also wanted to be able to get into the storage compartment without having to take the stone guard off completely. Our team designed a stone guard to protect the paint and tow bar with zips to open up the middle so that the customers could still have access to their storage without taking the stone guard off completely. 

This customer wanted to protect the windows of their caravan this summer. We designed this snug fitting stone guard with a polyester marine fabric that creates great protection for the front of the caravan and is easy to take off and put back on. It simply folds up and is able to be stored as well. 

See other custom caravan stone guards here. Give our team a call in January for a complimentary measure and quote. 


How to maintain your outdoor sun umbrella in New Zealand

Hawkes-Bay-Shade7-Umbrellas-St-George-RestaurantDouglas Outdoor Living are proud to supply Hawkes Bay with Shade7 Outdoor Umbrellas.  We have recently completed a few umbrella installs across Hawkes Bay  including Clearview Winery, a local church and some residential properties. 

Umbrellas are a simple, cost effective way to add shade protection to your outdoor living area. Some umbrellas are cantilevered allowing you the opportunity to tilt them to stay protected from the sun all day long. To get the longevity out of the umbrella it is important to maintain them year round.  Shade7 Umbrellas are designed to be durable and withstand New Zealand weather conditions. Your umbrella will, however, last longer if you take the appropriate steps to maintain it through the years. Shade7  have put together some simple tips on how to maintain your umbrella.outdoor-umbrellas-picnic-area

How to maintain your outdoor umbrella:

  1. Don’t leave your umbrella open in excessive winds or when not being used. Close the umbrella and firmly apply the strap Shade-7-outdoor-umbrella-cover-bagaround the middle of the umbrella holding the arms firmly against the umbrella mast.
  2. To ensure your umbrella fabric stays looking good for the maximum number of years, its recommended that you protect the umbrella with a cover bag when not in use. This reduces wear and tear on the fabric caused by pollution, dust, salt spray, pollen, birds, wind and excessive exposure to the sun. This will greatly extend the life of the umbrella fabric and also the frame.
  3. It is beneficial to periodically wash your umbrella using fresh water from a hose. This will help to remove dirt and keep the umbrella and fabric clean. If required you may want to give the full umbrella frame a wash with warm soapy water to remove any build up of dirt or grime.

To read more on how to maintain your Shade7 Umbrella, simply go to the Shade7 website. 





Ziptrak® Outdoor Screens Create a New Living Space in Hastings

Recently we have received many enquiries around Ziptrak® outdoor screens. The growing popularity of these easy to use blinds made us reach out to one of our customers to see what all the hype is about.

Mark & Jane Davenport live in a two story home near the Hastings racetrack. They are currently sharing their home with their daughter and her family. “We are temporarily working and living upstairs, and we wanted to be able to open the doors and dine outside and be comfortable,” Mark said.

The problem they found doing that was that it is so windy. Having installed Ziptrak® outdoor screens downstairs before, they called on Douglas Outdoor Living to work their magic. “We needed protection from the wind and some sun. We get the cold breeze and the mesh outdoor screens block it beautifully,” Mark said. “The mesh screens give us the opportunity to open the doors and dine outside and have a gas heater upstairs as well.” “We pull the screens down on a hot night and leave the doors open. It gets the upstairs nice and cool.”

The advice that Mark would give to anyone having screens installed is to make sure that you put them up if you are going to be out of town for a while. “We were away last year during one of the storms and had the screens down. The gale force winds blew one of the screens away,” he said. “We were able to recycle the screen however and put it over the railings upstairs.”

“While the outdoor blinds that we install are very durable, they are not a storm blind. We make the same recommendation that Mark does about leaving them up when you are away, or when bad weather is pending,” says Mike Konig, Managing Director of Douglas Outdoor Living. 

Mark suggests if you are considering screens to have a look at the different screens (clear or mesh) and see how effective they would be for your own personal situation.  “We are really pleased with the mesh ones.”


The Davenports have extended their living space outdoors with Ziptrak Mesh outdoor screens.


Boat Makeover – The Great White

The customer of this boat wanted it to have a complete cover makeover.

He came to us with some ideas after just purchasing the boat. Being a relatively tall guy the existing canopy was too low for him, and he also was keen to have covers made.








We started by designing a custom canopy for The Great White.

Our concept was to utilise his existing frame where we could, modifying it slightly to increase the height.

Using CAD technology we photographed the frame and drew in the new cover style to send for the customer’s approval. When it came time to fabricate, we created the canopy in the desired blood red colour.

Marine-Boat-ScreensA zipper opening was created to be able to see out in case of bad weather.

The canopy is able to fold down so that a cover can be put over the top. 




A custom boat cover for superior protection

Custom covers were made to match the canopy in the blood red colour. Covers were made to protect the motors as well as the boat while on the road or in storage, and hi-vis panels were added to the rear to increase night-time visibility. The Great White is going to be hard to miss when it is on the road.


A custom boat cover allows for a nice snug fit which prevents any surprises in the boat when the cover comes off in the new season.

Then we won an award for it!

Because of the design and craftsmanship that went into this job we decided to submit it for the OFPANZ Awards in 2018, being one of the jobs we were most proud of for the year.

We were delighted to have won this award for marine fabrication, it was a fun job to do and we’re incredibly proud of our team because to win a national award is truly a team effort.

Winter doesn’t last long in Hawkes Bay, so contact us quick to get your covers made – we’d love to discuss how we can turn your ideas into a quality custom solution.

Hastings Industrial Textile Fabrication Apprentice wins National Award

Every year the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand (OFPANZ) holds a conference where members are able to enter recent projects into the Awards for Excellence. MITO ( the industry training organisation for the industrial textile fabrication industry) partners with OFPANZ to offer its apprentices completing MITO’s National Certificate in Motor Trimming and/or National Certificate in Canvas Fabrication, the opportunity to enter into the Awards.

Hasting’s Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery is proud to announce that our 22-year-old apprentice, Ryan Stewart, has taken home the award for 2017 OFPANZ Apprentice of the Year (Tier 1).

Tier 1 apprentices are challenged to fabricate a messenger satchel using set criteria with the flexibility to select the fabrics

Ryan’s messenger satchel featured a New England Patriots logo, the American football team he supports. The judges complimented Ryan on the intricate design of the logo, the choice of fabrics and colours, as well as his attention to detail and overall excellent workmanship in the near flawless fabrication of the satchel.

Ryan learned a variety of skills while working on his satchel. “I learned how to do the piping which is something I had never done before. I also really enjoyed picking out the fabrics and providing the reasoning behind my choices to the judges.”

Mike König, managing director of Douglas Auto and Marine Upholstery says, “This award is a great reflection of the skill and attitude that Ryan brings to his work every day. It also reflects on the training he receives in our workshop. It is wonderful seeing young people with the right attitude being recognised in this way.”  

Ryan, a graduate of Karamu High School, joined Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery in November 2015. Ryan was working in retail and was tired of the monotony of it. He had a friend working at Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery who recommended he come in for a trial.

“I quickly found that having variety in my work was something I really enjoyed. I felt that having a trade would be extremely useful in life going forward and was more than happy to start an apprenticeship. I would recommend anyone looking at doing textile fabrication to get an apprenticeship and complete MITO’s National Certificate in Canvas Fabrication.”





OFPANZ was established in 1988 with fewer than 20 members. Nowadays, the association has more than 50 members committed to excellence and awarded in New Zealand and abroad for their innovation and ingenuity. The association represents enterprises engaged in anything from canvas fabrication, sailmaking, vehicle trimming and upholstery, to medium and very large structures covered in PVC and similar materials,  as well as suppliers of materials and associated components.

OFPANZ, its Executive and its members are dedicated to promoting, developing and protecting the interests of the manufacture, trading and marketing of all outdoor fabric products with exceptional quality and to recognised standards, both nationally and internationally.

The association seeks to provide fabricators and suppliers of outdoor products and materials with a forum for increasing their industry knowledge, developing new skills, legislation and technology, sharing experiences and the association helps provide a platform to network with other like-minded companies worldwide. Says Mike König of 0800 Sunshade “The value of this industry association lies in the establishment of networks and contacts in the industry. Although we all compete fiercely with each other, if a project is outside of our capability or region then we know a trusted company we can refer it to.  And if we need help on a particular issue we know whom to ask.”

OFPANZ is affiliated to the Specialised Textiles Association (STA) of Australia and became a country chapter of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), based in the United States, in 2008.

Contact :


About Douglas Auto and Marine Upholstery
Douglas Auto and Marine Upholstery has been operating in Hawke’s Bay for over 20 years. We are regarded as the most established specialists in the fields of vehicle trim, canvas and outdoor textile fabrication in the automotive, marine, industrial, commercial and residential markets.

Our fine work has been recognised in the number of Industry Awards we have won over the years.

In 2014, after many years custom-manufacturing, designing and installing outdoor living products such as awnings, shade sails, outdoor screens, sunshades and outdoor furniture upholstery we launched Douglas Outdoor Living Solutions – a brand totally dedicated to providing stylish outdoor living to Hawke’s Bay, capitalising on the expert knowledge of our talented in-house fabricators and tradespeople.

We are members of the Outdoor Fabrics Association of New Zealand and IFAI in the USA. Over the last four years we have won multiple industry awards for excellence. 

With our commitment to excellence, our tradesmen complete a 3-year intensive training programme through the Motor Industry Training Organisation – and over the past 10 years, four of our apprentices have won National Apprentice of the Year awards.


About MITO

MITO is an industry training organisation. We design qualifications and training programmes that meet the needs of the automotive, transport, logistics, industrial textile fabrication and extractive industries. We also provide leadership regarding skill and training needs for these industries in order to enhance workplace productivity, innovation and industry sustainability.


MITO works with current and future employees, their employers, and training providers to make sure people in the industries we serve get the best possible opportunities to learn and enjoy rewarding careers.